This week! Books!
PEN America released a wide-ranging survey of over 60 publishing employees on the paltry state of diversification and cultural change within the publishing industry when it comes to race, exploring “a host of historically underexplored financial and institutional factors that feed into underrepresentation across the industry,” and pointing to publishers’ “persistent obstacles and shortcomings” fulfilling their responsibility as curators of our country’s stories.
The entire study is worth a read and cites a range of factors, from disparities in advances and marketing, lack of staff diversity (particularly in mid- to upper-management), paltry starting pay, lack of opportunities for advancement and archaic business practices, to institutional cultural issues resulting in an emotionally exhausting work environment and authors getting shoehorned.
Perhaps most striking to me was the contrast between One World publisher Chris Jackson’s quotes about the state of the industry in 2021 (“The last shred of naivete I have about publishing is that I think we have passed an inflection point. I don’t think we can go back to the way it was because there’s just too much evidence that books coming from writers of color work in the market.”) and 2022 (“I may have believed this when the interview first took place,” he said, “but I don’t believe it anymore. I’m pretty convinced at this point that things can definitely go back to the way they used to be.”)
And, speaking of which, Ismail Muhammad takes a look at a trap that comes with an increase of Black representation in literature: “the whittling down of Black life’s full scope into marketable, digestible facsimiles that are then thrust onto Black writers,” and tracing the history of analogous concerns through the years.
Congrats to Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, who won the prestigious Booker Prize for The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida.
Cormac McCarthy has two novels forthcoming that will delve in some of his personal passions, physics and the philosophy of mathematics.
Two good and important reminders from literary agents that they are, ya know, human beings whose lives do not entirely revolve around you and the book you’re querying about. Kristin Nelson wrote about being sidelined from answering query letters because of a family matter, and hearing from querying authors who treated her absence as some sort of a personal affront. And Jessica Faust says that authors who want to know why their query was rejected already have their answer: their query didn’t excite that particular agent. What they’re really asking is how they can fix their project so they can get published, which is not an agent’s job to tell you (even if they could, which they likely can’t).
I’m not really a horror fan, but if you are you’re in luck because Kristen Lamb has a great post diving into the modern history of the genre, with food for thought on how best to zero in on the intimate and personal to make the horror resonate.
And in other genre news, the genre formerly (otherwise?) known as “women’s fiction” is undergoing a bit of a transformation and an expansion. Publishers Marketplace actually eliminated it as a deal category, and agent Angie Hodapp has a new definition of what it is and what makes for strong stories.
I really enjoyed this post on David Moldawer about the importance of knowing and finding your community writing and marketing. Often when writers think about how to promote their books they think about strangers, but a really key place to start is with the influencers in your own world.
And Gregory Berns looks at the literal effects books have on our brains.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Long Shadows by David Baldacci
- The Maze by Nelson DeMille
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- Fairy Tale by Stephen King
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Confidence Man by Maggie Haberman
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- Live Wire by Kelly Ripa
- Killing the Legends by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bassel van der Kolk
Young adult hardcover:
- The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera
- Long Live the Pumpkin King by Shea Ernshaw
- Hocus Pocus: The Illustrated Novelization by A.W. Jantha
- The Girl in the Castle by James Patterson and Emily Raymond
- The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Hocus Pocus Spell Book by Eric Geron
- Two Degrees by Alan Gratz
- Odder by Katherine Patterson
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Boys Will Be Human by Justin Baldoni
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, talk about larger than life, this profile of legendary Vegas performers Siegfried & Roy did not disappoint. If you wrote it in a novel, no one would believe it.
Have a great weekend!
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